Descriptions of Speech Acts

This site provides a collection of descriptions of speech acts as revealed through empirical research. The material is designed to help language teachers and advanced learners to be more aware of the sociocultural use of the language they are teaching or learning. It is also an empirical resource for materials developers to base their future materials on for second language learners.

Speech Acts

Below is a list of speech acts that have been researched at CARLA. Within each category you will find basic information about the speech act, as well as teaching tips, sample exercises, and past research findings.



This site has been developed by Noriko Ishihara and edited by Anne Fretheim under the direction of Professor Andrew Cohen with support from the Digital Media Center at the University of Minnesota.

Updated in 2016 by Kimberly Morris and Akiko Chiba under the supervision of Noriko Ishihara with financial support from the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) offered by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (#15K02802).

Please send all comments and/or contributions to Noriko Ishihara at

Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 - 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414